"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52)
There are many outstanding traits that Jesus possessed that would be good for all of us to have as part of our basic character. As a child, he was subject to His parents (Luke 2:51; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20). He was about His Father's business at an early age, i.e., He was interested in spiritual things while just a youth (Luke 2:49; Eccl. 12:1). He lived, not selfishly, but for others (Mark 10:45; Phil. 2:4). He accomplished God's will in His life (John 6:38). He left an example that all can follow (1 Pet. 2:21).
In this article, though, we want to look at His development that is related in Luke 2:52. The four areas in which Jesus grew that are revealed in that passage -- wisdom, stature, favor with men, and favor with God -- are those areas we must emphasize as we look to our own lives.
To advance in wisdom is to grow intellectually or mentally. Wisdom is "the quality of being wise; the power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding." Wisdom's importance is emphasized by Solomon in Proverbs 3:13-26.
While one should give attention, especially when young, to his education, he should "give diligence" (2 Tim. 2:15) to gain knowledge of the Bible. A good understanding of its teachings is far more valuable than an education at the finest academic institutions.
To advance in stature is to develop physically. Jesus developed a strong, healthy body. Our bodies are to be instruments of our service (Rom. 12:1; 6:12-13) and temples of God (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
There are three essentials to a strong body: eat proper food, exercise moderately (1 Tim. 4:8) and keep it free from diseases.
This is to develop socially. It has to do with human beings living together as a group in a situation which requires they have dealings with one another. Man is created a social being: to live one with the other. It is not in man's nature to live alone (Gen. 2:18). He is to be a gregarious being.
We need to learn to love people. It makes it easy to live with them. Jesus associated with all kinds of people -- publicans, sinners, Samaritans -- because He loved them (John 3:16). Jesus always tried to influence those with whom He associated to be better people setting the proper example of behavior before them.
This is the spiritual development that ought to characterize every child of God. The importance and value of the soul is seen in Matthew 16:26 where it is shown to be of greater value that all the amassed wealth to be found in the world.
Basically, the essentials for spiritual development are the same as those for physical growth: proper food, exercise and freedom from disease. The correct spiritual food is the Bible (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1-2). Spiritual exercise is the application of the word of God to one's life which results in proper character development and worthwhile service to the Lord and others. Freedom from disease is being pure and "unspotted from the world" (Jas. 1:27) by keeping one's lusts in check.